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In the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky system, the Absolute, as well as  everything else, possesses three forces or laws,  which he calls the active, the passive, and the  neutralising [Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pp.77-8].  These are equivalent in part  to both the Chinese yin-yang polarity (active and  passive) and the Indian Samkhyan theory of three gunas or qualities in psycho-physical Nature.

the Ray of Creation Within the Absolute, these three forces constitute one whole, one unity, and this three-in-one nature,  according to Gurdjieff, is the basis of the Trinity in many religions [Ibid, p.79], e.g. ChristianityHinduism, etc.  The interaction between these three fundamental forces is the cause of creation.

The three forces of the Absolute in themself constitute one whole, one consciousness, one will.   These separate and unite by their own Divine will, and, says Gurdjieff, at the points of junction they  create phenomena, or "worlds".  These worlds, created by the will of the Absolute, depend entirely  on this will.   In each of these "worlds of the second order" the  three forces act.  Since however each of these worlds is not the whole, but only a part, the three  forces are divided, and it is now a case of three wills, three consciousnesses.  Gurdjieff represents  these worlds by the number three (the three separate laws).  Because they are separate, the three forces  no longer act as one but rather independently of  each other, and the meeting point begins to become  accidental or mechanical.

The process of creation repeats itself, and the  three divided forces in the worlds of the second order, meeting together in each of these worlds, create new worlds of the third order.  These worlds, created by the three forces act semi-mechanically,  no longer dependend upon the single will of the Absolute, but rather upon the three mechanical laws of  the worlds of the second order.  Having been created by the three original forces they manifest three  forces of their own, and so are represented by the number six [Ibid].

The process continues, with each successive world  having twice the number of forces or laws as the  preceeding world.  Ouspensky says: "The fewer laws  there are in a given world, the nearer it is to the will of the Absolute; the more laws..., the greater the mechanicalness, the further from the will of the Absolute..." [Ibid p.81]

This whole cosmology is summed up in a diagram referred to as external link "the Ray of Creation" (shown left).  In this diagram the Absolute is the fundamental source of all creation.  From the Absolute the process of cosmic creation branches and descends according to a sequence of increasing complexity and density.  Note that each stage is also identified with one of the notes of the musical octave.  Although the universe as a whole is made up of innumerable such branches; this diagram represents the "ray" containing the Earth.  In a curious sort of materialism, Gurdjieff identifies each of these levels or worlds with the sun,  planets, etc.  But clearly what is being  referred to here are levels of consciousness, levels of existence, planes of being, not physical celestial bodies.

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 5 June 1999, last modified 16 November 2003